With that in mind, here are some random ideas that popped into my head. Most of them center on package deals for groups, not individuals.
- Offer dirt cheap tickets ($5 tops, and that's in expensive places like NYLADCHI) to a dress or technical rehearsal for schools and colleges. Let them see how things work behind the scenes in the Real World (ie, the world outside the classroom).
- Turn your show into part of a complete night out by offering coupons and discounts to local restaurants. Better yet, feed people before, during, and/or after the show. Offer your show as a place for caterers to market their businesses. Include free concessions as one kind of entertainment package.
- Do the Regal Cinemas Crown Club thing. You know why I usually patronize Regal Cinemas when I see movies with my family? Because I get free stuff based on how much I spend: free soda, free popcorn, even free tickets. I know that printing cards or a lot of paper costs too much, but how about we encourage people to save their tickets to get their free stuff? Say, for every 5 tickets, the 6th one is free. Or bring a ticket stub and a playbill to get a discount on the next show.
- Stage public commercials. Make them funny; make them quirky; make them sexy; make them whatever. But do something different. In my town, there's a poetry reading called Word Stage (I know because they kept saying that in the microphone while I was trying to read). A little too preachy for my tastes, but I admire that they're not afraid to go where the people are.
- Use business cards. Perhaps if they bring in the card when they get a ticket, they get a discount.
- Utilize the captive audience on public transportation.
- Get attractive actors on the auction block. Do date auctions for actors. Better yet, do one for famous characters in theater (Win a date with Hamlet/Romeo/Stanley/Cyrano/etc.) Paying money to interact with people in costume isn't just for Trekkies, comic book fans, role-players and otaku. There's nothing like the hint of sex to get people to spend money.
- Put a Rocky Horror element in every performance. Genetically speaking, we're less than half a step from going "Oook-oook" and flinging poop. Are there places where the audience may get to make noise or throw things? Let them know. Ask them to bring in props or sell them on site.